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Comparative Liberation Ecclesiologies
In line with the 2021 theme of “Religion, Poverty, and Inequality,” we invite papers that explore contemporary ecclesiologies of liberation from a variety of perspectives and locations. As we contemplate the future of the churches, we hope in this session to examine some of the ways in which liberation perspectives inform church communities’ self-understanding, institutional life, ethical formation, and struggles for justice. What are the similarities and differences between the “classic” liberation theologies of the late twentieth century and the liberation perspectives that are proving most ecclesiologically significant today? What are the new ecclesial and geographic spaces in which liberation ecclesiologies are emerging? How do ecclesiologies help or hinder struggles for liberation in relation to race, ethnic identity, class, sex and gender, LGBTQ+ identity, migration, and their intersections? We are particularly interested in ecclesiologies of liberation that are rooted in understudied or unexpected contexts, and we are open to papers that report on particular liberation ecclesiologies, engage in comparative study of two or more thinkers or movements, and/or offer constructive proposals rooted in particular contexts.

An Intersectional and Intercultural Church
As we meet in San Antonio near the US/Mexico border, we invite papers that consider issues of intersectionality and interculturality in ecclesiology. In particular, we are interested in the intersections of race, class, ethnic identity, sex and gender, LGBTQ+ identity, and other forms of identity within and between the churches. How are the voices of marginalized or minimized members of the church heard, or not heard, in ecclesiology and ecclesial practice? What might “ecclesiology from below” look like across contributing identities and in response to systems that oppress across borders between and within communities? How is the intercultural nature of the church treated, or not treated, in contemporary ecclesiological projects and/or contexts? What contributions might intersectional theory and/or intercultural theory make to ecclesiology and to practice in an intersectional and intercultural church? While we meet near the US/Mexico border, we are interested in reflections across any geographic locations, in numerous ecclesial and denominational contexts, and in relation to any particular locations marked by intersections and/or borders.

The Future of Church in a Broken World
As we contemplate our collective futures and the churches' roles within them, we invite papers that investigate the future of a church of hope in a world whose challenges are unlikely to lessen in the coming years. Climate change, poverty, migration, and pandemics current and future are worsened by nationalist populisms; racism and ethnic prejudice; suspicion of science, authority, and institutions; gender discrimination; and a general state of polarization, division, and brokenness, including within Christian churches. What is the future of Christian churches and of Christian discourse/understanding in a broken world? How can the particular difficulties that face the churches in times of global crisis be named and addressed? How do Pope Francis’s encyclical Fratelli Tutti, statements and witness by other Christian leaders, or other ecclesial resources help to address the situation? What developments in ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, missiology, or political theology might prove especially useful? We invite papers that address the broad topic of church in a broken world at both the global level and in response to particular challenges, including but not limited to those named above.

Mission Statement:

This Unit is a part of the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network, which seeks to serve as a hub for national and international collaboration in ecclesiology, drawing together other groups and networks, initiating research ventures, providing administrative support, as well as acting as a facilitator to support conversations, research, and education in this field. Hence the Network exists to promote collaborative ecclesiology. The Network’s five fundamental aims are as follows:

• The establishment of partnerships between scholars, research projects, and research centers across the world
• The development of virtual, textual, and actual conversation between the many persons and groups involved in research and debate about ecclesiology
• Organizing and sharing in colloquia, symposia, and conferences
• Encouraging joint teaching and exchanges of postgraduate students and faculty
• The Unit seeks to publish the best fruits of all such collaboration in our new Palgrave Series, Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue, as well as in the journal Ecclesiology (Brill), published in association with the Network. The Network is a “network of networks” serving a “church of churches.” See http://www.ei-research.net/ for more information.

Method of Submission:



Ecclesiological Investigations Unit



Dennis Doyle, ddoyle1@udayton.edu

Brian Flanagan, brianflanagan1@gmail.com


Steering Committee:

Sandra Arenas, searenas@gmail.com

Miriam Haar, haarm@tcd.ie

Aaron Hollander, ahollander@geii.org

Cristina Lledo Gomez, cristina.gomez2@bbi.catholic.edu.au

Scott MacDougall, turasoir@gmail.com


Session Allotment: Tier 2 – Two 2-hour sessions

Next Review: 2021